New funding deal for Lincolnshire Police delayed after Home Office error

Plans for a new funding formula for police forces in England and Wales, including Lincolnshire Police, have been put on hold for at least a year due to errors made by central government.

In an apology to the House of Commons, Policing Minister Mike Penning said that the Home Office had made a “statistical error” in calculating the new formula, which assesses population size and other data to distribute funds.

Policing Minister Mike Penning. Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Policing Minister Mike Penning. Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The earliest the new formula could be introduced would be for 2017-2018, although the Home Office would not confirm how long the delay would last for.

Lincolnshire Police faces a funding gap of about £7 million to balance the books by 2016-2017. Without additional funding, jobs could be lost, with officers, PCSOs and support staff all at risk.

In response to the error, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire Alan Hardwick, said: “Everyone agrees with me and the Chief Constable that the current formula is not fit for purpose.

“In particular, ministers have been very clear with us that Lincolnshire has not been treated fairly in the past.

“There is no doubt that nationally the police service can save money. Lincolnshire remains one of the lowest spending forces per head of population in the country.

“Many forces have much further to go to become as efficient as Lincolnshire. The new funding arrangements need to incentivise those forces into action.

“We will continue to work constructively with government to inform the new arrangements.

“The minister has said that funding for 2016-17 will be announced in the usual way in December. He has been clear that he has listened to the case we have made. I expect the announcement to reflect that.”

As previously reported, the commissioner and Chief Constable Neil Rhodes visited Westminster jointly to apply for extra funding for the force in January 2015.

The Policing Minister also visited Lincolnshire Police HQ in March, and appointed a Home Office task force to listen to the views of the force on how to address the funding shortfall it faces in the next few years.